My friend and former colleague Dan McConchie, who is a paraplegic, wrote a piece for Daily Caller earlier this week about how the Park Service has made it dangerous for those dependent on wheelchairs to get around in downtown DC due to how they’ve placed their barricades.
Dan explains the situation briefly:
Even though there are no fences or buildings bordering the Mall itself, the Department of Interior instructed the National Park Service (NPS) to “close” it, notwithstanding the fact that the Mall is not regularly guarded anyway.
How exactly you close an open park that is 13 blocks long and is bordered by open streets? The answer is of course that you don’t really close it, you just pretend to.
To comply with the Interior Department’s edict, NPS placed barricades in front of many of the disabled access ramps that lead up from the street. By blocking these ramps, they even block access to the sidewalk that surrounds the park.
I haven’t been to DC lately, so I have to wonder if the Park Service has done similar things to all the other parks, squares, and circles in their control. If they are able to do this now, why couldn’t they do something about the Occupiers who were trashing McPherson Square a couple of years ago?
Dan goes into more detail of how exactly these measured affected him:
As someone who has no use of my legs at all and rely entirely on a wheelchair for mobility, my options when in this area are to stay on the other side of the road or, more interestingly, try my luck in the street.
I presume this “closure” is to remind me that the shutdown is taking place, rather than for my safety or some other noble cause. I say “presumably” because there are other ways I can think of to “shut down” the Mall without forcing those of us who are disabled to circumnavigate the Mall amongst cars.
Dan’s closing sums things up nicely:
To those responsible for such silly, empty gestures, please note that I do want our leaders to work out an agreement and reopen the government. But your rubbing my face in the shutdown doesn’t make me want a solution faster. Instead, blocking disabled ramps at the National Mall reinforces what I really want: a government that does less, better.